Sunday, June 27, 2010

Round of 16 thoughts so far

As I was out with family yesterday I only had the opportunity to see bits and pieces of the two games, because of this is I will not be offering an opinion on the two games. All I can really say about them is congrats to Uruguay and Ghana, two teams I did not have making it this far. If you had the opportunity to watch them let me know what you though of the games, especially the Ghana v USA match, I heard it ended up a classic.

As for day two of the round of 16 your intrepid footy analyst was back on the couch watching England v Germany and then the sexy match up of today, the rematch of the best match in the 2006 tournament Argentina v Mexico.

Germany 4 England 1: (Germany advance to quarter finals)
This was pretty much the worst case scenario for both teams coming into the round of 16 as neither really wanted this match up as early as this. Especially England who had hoped to finish first in their group and avoid this hard of a game. Now I must admit that I have a soft spot for England and was hoping for a victory from the the Three Lions, because of this I watched the game again taking my bias out of it. Once I did that it was clear that Germany were the better side on the day. Yes the Lampard goal that was ruled no goal was absolutely one of the worst calls I have ever seen in a World Cup, and yes it may have changed the complexion of the game a bit. However the match was not lost on that call really, it was actually lost in two key areas, tactics set up by manager Fabio Capello, and defensive play. I will go about trying to explain how this was.

First Capello's tactics in this game weren't horrible, but they were misguided against a strong squad like Germany. The squad lacked ideas and many times were very narrow in attack. England's best chances, and the goal scored were set up on wide play from James Milner. When the team was narrow it was easy for Germany to close down on Rooney and Defoe, which in turn made the link up play ineffective. Also when you cannot spread the field you leave yourself open for counter attacks which three of Germany's four goals were scored on. In this, all credit must go to Germany who countered brilliantly mainly through Mesut Özil who again is proving to be the young player of the tournament so far. When the German manager moved him a bit more to the right after half time, Özil was able to take advantage of the space left by the advancing England right back Glenn Johnson.

Speaking of the defensive backs, they did not have a great day, John Terry and Matthew Upson in particular. On the first goal by Klose, Terry uncharacteristically misplayed he flight of the ball which allowed Klose to walk in the back door. Upson ended up being out muscled by Klose for the goal. On the second goal it was a combination of excellent German movement and sloppy coverage by Terry and Johnson left Lukas Podolski wide open on the left wing to score.

I know this will not sit well with the England supporters, many will use the disallowed goal as a rallying point to say that England were robbed. I agree with them; England was robbed of THAT goal, but not of the match. Not enough credit is being given to Germany who yes rode of bit of luck but who overall were the better team on the day, and they outclassed England. To read another point of view on England's world cup proformance read BBC chief football writer Phil McNulty's assesment (Click on his name)

Argentina 3 Mexico 1: (Argentina advances to quarter finals)
This was to be the sexy match up of the day as both teams liked moving forward. The first 10 minutes provided just that, with Mexico holding the majority of the play at the time....then controversy hit again. Carlos Tevez scored on a flicked header off floated shot by Messi. The issue was that Tevez was quite clearly offside. After some confusion between the ref and the line judge the goal stood. Mexican players complained for a good two minutes and pretty much lost their head after that. Argentina took over the match at that point, plus it didn't he;p that the Mexican defence handed Argentina the second goal on a poor back pass by the defender.

Overall Argentina bossed the game and until the last 10 mins looked like they could really run up the score on Mexico. By the way if you get to watch a replay of the game, Tevez's second goal which made it 3-0 was a lazer, and Henandez's goal that made it 3-1 was a lesson on how to turn a defender. My one criticism of the game would be Argentina's lack of zest going forward at about the 75 minute mark. This seemed to coincide with the substitution of Carlos Tevez who provided alot of the spark and work rate upfront. Never the less Argentina manager Diego Maradona seems to have pulled off another managerial master class in planning and tactics....yes I said it.

Looking forward to the rest of the week! Let me know what you think will happen or on any of the games from this weekend.


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